Sunday, July 10, 2016

My Main Concern with BLM

In light of the shootings this week, I’d like to offer some of my concerns. Last week, I posted something on Facebook that detailed my frustrations with the BLM movement. My wife thought I was too harsh in my criticism of “Black Lives Matter” (BLM), so I took it down. She brought up some very valid concerns: I can’t make a general statement about the whole movement without coming across as overly simplistic and that some things simply need to go into a blog.

My one main concern

I won’t go into depth about BLM and I would like to make this brief and to the point, after all, this is a blog not an essay. I’d also like to preface that I’m not an expert on criminal law nor an expert on what’s best for battling racism. I’m not an authority on these matters and am speaking like a concerned citizen.

However, I still have one serious concern about BLM, especially its approach in battling racism and its reaction toward police officers: BLM’s justification is not from particular research or the courts, but rumors, cell phones, and false reports. Therefore, its energy is reactive, not logical or consistent. This movement differs seriously from the tactics used during the early civil rights era, especially those of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who had definitive evidence of racism and wanted to use the courts to address the loss of civil rights. BLM does not use the courts, but are often angry at the courts even if the courts have a varied jury. The foundation of their energy is “what was heard on the rooftops” and not conclusive evidence.

Let’s take three cases (Trayvon Martin, Freddie Gray, and Michael Brown) that BLM often used in justifying it’s “proof,” i.e. that “white officers target blacks and that blacks are the victims of racism.” Each one of these cases are very different. Only one of them involves a supposed white on black crime (Brown), whereas the other two involve a Spanish-American and a group of six police officers (three of which were black) on a black person. One thing in common is that each of these cases were dropped in a judicial system because the evidence against the accused (the officers and Zimmerman) were inconsistent and did not prove criminal intent. These courts had several people of color on the jury, and witness testimony in each of these cases thought the officers were innocuous of any crimes and thus set free.

Why is this a problem? It’s a problem because every time a black life is taken, BLM is there to assume the worse before there’s been an investigation. BLM seeks to ride the wave of assumption and vague eye-witness testimony; not logic, not consistency of evidence, nor an objective arbiter. BLM is ready to condemn and pounce every so-called crime without any proven evidence of a crime. This states the laziness of the movement, but even worse, our own. Especially when we pat ourselves on the back as if we’re battling racism. We’re not. We’re worsening it because now more reaction is against the officer, which leads to more black deaths.

How is that possible? Thus far, we’ve had two deaths this past week (Alton Sterling and Philando Castile). And what has the BLM done? They’ve already made a case without going to the court and are telling us, the audience, that their narrative (white officers target blacks and that blacks are the victims of racism) is a truism. But is it?

What do we know about these two shootings thus far? In Alton Sterling’s case, we know that a phone call was placed stating that “a man with a red shirt is waiving a gun.” We know that Sterling was a known convict with a serious criminal record. We know that his records show that Sterling was a registered sex offender with a lengthy criminal record that included convictions for weapons offenses, confrontations with police officers, property crimes, and domestic violence and other batteries. We know that when police arrived, they likely knew Sterling, especially if he had a record. We don’t know whether Sterling was reaching for his gun. BLM condemned this white-officer on black crime by using one public video. However, a second video just came out that seemed to show Sterling reaching for his gun (http://www.allenbwest.com/matt-palumbo/newly-released-video-destroys-liberal-narrative-on-alton-sterling-shooting). That’s what we know and what we don’t know. Can we prove the officer wanted him dead?

In the second case, Castile, we have even less evidence of what occurred. Which makes it more problematic. We know that Castile’s girlfriend started recording after the incident and not during. We see an officer aiming his gun at Castile and clearly agitated. Which begs the question, was this officer agitated because Castile was reaching for his gun when the officer told him not to? We don’t know. Were the officer and Castile arguing prior to the incident? We don’t know. Again, this case seems more problematic because there’s so much data that’s missing; but that’s also a reason why we must wait and we not assume too quickly.

The question for both of these cases and for the three mentioned above is, “Can we definitely state these cases are clear indications of a white officer on black crime?” We can’t. Which is why courts are set in place. Since the beginning of human civilization, courts stop our immediate reactions from getting the best of us, especially our slow reasoning. We’re quick to condemn and we’re quick to call the guilty, innocent. What we need more than anything is a just court. You are not a victim, black or white. You have a voice, but you also must use your voice reasonably and justly. We do not have the right to condemn officers who have not been condemned in the court of law anymore than we have a right to set free people who may have attacked police officers in the process.

We need peace. But we’re not going to get it from this movement of reactivity.   

1 comment:

  1. the BLM movement is pressing into service the most graphic, powerful moments to highlight a much broader issue - systemic racism. There *is* an issue regarding the relationship of cops to black men, absolutely. Most pressingly, in incarceration numbers. Whites and blacks use marijuana in about equal percentages, but the vast majority of our prison inmates are black men, jailed for marijuana possession - not even for selling the drug, just possessing the same way white people do in much greater numbers (being the majority population and as likely to be users as the minority population).

    Do more blacks get killed by cops than whites? Yes, definitely. Is it an epidemic? Maybe not, but the general treatment of black men by cops and its disparity to how white people in general are treated is definitely an issue.

    BLM maybe not showing graphs and charts in Congressional hearings or following a rigorous scientific method ... but do the researchers get your attention? Are you listening, for instance, to these guys: https://www.raceforward.org/

    Maybe you should. Their cheeky set of intro videos have some painful statistics to digest. https://www.youtube.com/playlist...

    I recognize that the number of deaths by cops is relatively (thankfully) small. But abuse of black men by police, incarceration rates, etc. are a huge injustice. And while using the few deaths caught on camera as a way to cry for justice may not be good science, I nonetheless stand by it as a valid approach for activism.

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